Spring Forward in 2015 with these Web Design Resources

Fresh Web Design Resources

Spring is all about renewal and regrowth, so it’s the perfect time to motivate yourself and get excited about web design all over again. We’ve been collecting some some new tools and web design resources (and yes, freebies) to help you take advantage of those extra daylight hours and kick-start the spring equinox into a season of productivity and inspiration.

Prototyping & Mockup Resources:

Wireframing and prototyping is an essential step of the web design process – and with the right tools it can be one of the most exhilarating phases of a project, where possibilities are blooming (and budgets are still robust). Here’s some places to start if you’re looking to increase the effectiveness of your wires and protos.


InVision is a great tool for visual collaboration, you can comment and provide feedback in specific areas of your design and track iterations. With InVision Sync you can even separate screens and assets from within your source files and they’ll automatically update in the app. You can link between screens using hotspots and it has some basic interactive features. It’s a nice tool to have for quick communication on remote teams; at UpTrending we use it both for design presentations and internal reviews.


UXPin elevates the wireframing process in a way that feels so much more appropriate for today’s modern, highly interactive websites. With responsive views and the ability to add your own breakpoints, it’s great for a mobile-first approach and RWD planning. It comes with several libraries of UI elements, and you can create your own reusable components with Smart Elements. There’s effects for a more interactive presentation, hooking into events like hover and scroll. This is another tool we’ve embraced at UpTrending as a part of our design process.

For a more interactive experience in prototyping, has a generous set of features for animations, gestures and media, and allows for a realistic user experience that makes it great for testing concepts in the wild. It comes with a suite of UI libraries for various devices, and even lets you import your designs and assets for high fidelity visual mockups.

A Guide to Design Mockup Fidelity

This is not another prototyping tool but a rather nice writeup on mockup fidelity, with use cases and workflow suggestions. I also found the different schools of thought on this interesting (transitional vs representational). Maybe a good read before deciding what type of prototyping is appropriate for a particular project.

eBooks for Creatives

With all the pressure to produce, as a designer it can be easy to forget to feed your brain and replenish your knowledge and expertise. Here’s some books to nourish your skills and bring you back to your creative center.

Web UI Design Best Practices

I’ve seen a few mentions of this book in the design community, released from the team at the aforementioned UXPin – I’m excited to check this one out.

UX Design for Startups

This book is extremely relevant to our company since we partner with a lot of startup companies, also from the guys at UXPin.

The Creative Aid Handbook

With everything from office Feng shui, energizing recipes, stress management, and dream interpretation, this is a fun and quirky little guide to manifest creative strength through your environment and lifestyle.

Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook 2

This is a really nice (and beautifully designed) re-release of the original PPP ebook, which covers everything from overall design principles to Photoshop tricks and techniques.

Freebies for Designers

Apple Watch UI Kit

Apple Watch UI Kit


New Macbook PSD Mockup

New Macbook PSD Mockups

Blogger Sans Font (8 Weights Free)

Blogger Sans Free Font

5 Sign & Facade Mockups

Signs & Facades Mockups

Icon Font Pack

Icon Font Pack

2 Free Desktop Mockups

2 Free Hip Mackbook Mockups


Cool Sh*t You’ll Want for Your Office

Infuse your office with some beauty and innovation this spring. Whether it’s a fun new gadget or an inspiring art piece, here’s some of our top picks:

Keep your gadgets charged and your OCD in check with this cool little cable organizer for your workstation.

Cordies Cord Organizer

Watchstand for Apple Watch

This sleek stand for your Apple Watch has a minimalistic design that would look great on any desk, and of course it’s also a convenient charging station.

Apple Watch Stand

Studio Ghibli Posters

For those that are fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s breathtaking and beautiful animated films (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and more …) you’ll probably fall for these posters as hard as I did. With such a great price for the whole set – might as well start measuring the wall space in your office.

Misewell Captain Hooks

These wall hooks are sturdy enough to hang heavy items without looking too clunky. Suitable for both a home office or swanky studio, you can buy them in white or black.

Misewell Coat Hooks

Cheero Portable Charger

This portable charger from Cheero has a battery bank that allows you to charge your iPhone six times without recharging, awesome for dialing into conferences when you’re on the road.

Cheero Portable Charger

Parrot Pot

If you’re like me and struggle to keep plants alive inside your home, then you’ll appreciate the concept behind this Bluetooth enabled, self watering planter. Mashable did a cool review of this product and the accompanying app.

Planters and Vases from L & M Studio

You may be looking for a less-techy way to display some spring flora, then check out these gorgeous vases and planters from L & M Studio. More works of art than just plain flower holders, these ceramic pieces are both unique and functional. (I’m also in love with the Wood Grain Faceted Coffee Mugs).

L & M Studio Vases and Planters


From Blog To Beyond – Top 5 Ways To Use WordPress.

How to Use WordPress

WordPress has, over the course of the last several years, established its dominance as the most popular content management system on the market.  WordPress powers nearly 25% of the market – a lions share, considering its nearest competitor is just shy of 3%. It’s clear that WordPress easily satisfies the need for a powerful – yet, easy to use – software.

WordPress was created, at its core, to be the best blogging platform around. But WordPress itself isn’t just a blogging platform – it’s been molded into one of the most powerful content management systems on the market.

With that being said, new WordPress users often wonder if WordPress can handle their specific project – no two websites are alike, and each has their specific concerns and needs.

Here are the top 5 ways WordPress can be used – aside from blogging!

1. A Full Website

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about just how far WordPress has come as a true content management system.  Often called a “brochure” site at it’s core, most of today’s modern wordpress websites have so much more than simple pages.  A site, integrated with a blog, has the potential to be a powerful tool since new content can be added easily.

Until recently, the biggest problem was translating complex layouts into easy-to-setup option in WordPress.  With the PageBuilder plugin, that shortfall has been overcome.  Add to that a visual-editor based widget like the Black Studio TinyMCE Widget, and you can literally add any content in any format to any page – the possibilities are endless.

2. Collaborative / Social Forum

WordPress’ BuddyPress and bbPress make creating a social network inside of WordPress a breeze.  There are tons of sub-plugins for BuddyPress that add most of the functionality that a modern social network would have, and sites running it can support thousands of concurrent users simultaneously.  By adding in forums with bbPress, you can provide a place for users in your specific niche to congregate and communicate.

3. eCommerce Solution

There are more than a few eCommerce solutions out there right now.  Shopp and WooCommerce provide an extremely integrated experience, with adding product being akin to adding a new page or blog post.  Outside sources, such as FoxyCart, have third party plugins like FoxyShop and FoxyPress to allow seamless product adding without the hassle of an integrated checkout system.

4. Membership Site

Being able to restrict content at the user level is a necessity for any good membership site, and WordPress has plugins to help.  S2Member and WP-Members are free solutions that can create user-groups, restrict content by group, and even take care of any payment options you wish to utilize.  You can even hide networks (such as sites running BuddyPress and bbPress) behind a pay-wall to encourage users to subscribe.

5. Web Application Backend

Still in its infancy, but definitely not unheard of, is the ability to use WordPress as the backend for a web application.  With the updated JSON framework set to release in a future version, that ability will only get easier and more accessible to developers.  There are entire sites running both websites and native applications on one installation of WordPress!